Some eleven plus children will be approaching their eleven plus examinations with a reading problem. All eleven plus children have to write the same examination – but not all children have similar reading skills. Some children may even have a descriptive label while others, with similar problems, may be in a system that does not recognise the `specific learning problem’.
Some children are in schools where there are specialist teachers who are able to support the classroom teachers. Some eleven plus children may even be in a class where the teacher is trained in coping with children with difficulties in reading. Other children may be withdrawn to a special class – while others are helped by specialist and well trained teachers.
Children are usually offered extra help at school after a full and comprehensive examination or battery of relevant tests. Most classroom teachers will be aware of the child’s problems but may not have the tools to be able to help the child in their care. Naturally most eleven plus parents will have been aware of problems with reading and interpretation of questions – and will have tried to help their children as best they can.
Some eleven plus parents may feel that they are forced to become politically orientated towards trying to apply pressure on some one or some body in order for their child to have the best possible opportunity in the examination. The political orientation is probably not to do with party politics – but with a pragmatic desire to make something happen.
If parents take their child to twenty different eleven plus teachers they will be offered twenty different opinions on the effect of the perceived reading problem on the child’s ability to cope with examination papers. The different eleven plus teachers may have varying methods of assessment – and will certainly have different methods of trying to help the child.
It is likely that some parents will listen respectfully to the different eleven plus teachers –while others may feel inclined to argue. Some eleven plus tutors, for example, may focus attention on perceived behaviour problems while others could focus on lack of attention. Some tutors may be trained in reading problems as well as the eleven plus while other may tend to specialise in the delivering good eleven plus lessons.
Some eleven plus teachers may have difficulty in accepting that a child is dyslexic. Some parents may feel they understand a lot of educational problems once their child has been diagnosed as dyslexic. In the similar manner some children will accept they have a problem and endeavour to move on – while other children may feel the need, at times, to blame their `dyslexia’ for all types of ills.
It is most likely, however, that a child with a reading problem, whether labelled or not, probably needs compassion, understanding, comprehension and interest. After all the examination is hard enough without the child experiencing the additional difficulty of being not entirely sure of what is being read.
Parents, of course, have one massive advantage over all the specialists, teachers, tutors, psychologists, ophthalmologists, therapists, doctors, paediatricians, hearing specialists and neurologists – and that is that parents have that wonderful ingredient called love.